Coming into the season, the Phoenix Coyotes made one significant addition to improve a pretty stagnant offense in bringing in free agent forward Mike Ribeiro. While he was/is expected to help the Coyotes improve their offensive production significantly, it’s all going to come down to what some of the current faces in the organization can do, and how they can elevate their respective games.
We’re already seeing that to a certain degree out of Martin Hanzal. A player that has posted decent numbers over the year, but hasn’t been able to remain healthy, Hanzal is a centerpiece for an offensively starved team like the Coyotes are.
Through the first seven games of the season, Hanzal has found himself off to a strong start, and as early as it is in the season, he’s on pace to obliterate all of his previous career totals. He has six points through the first seven games, with six of those being helpers.
The thing about Hanzal’s early success is that he hasn’t been one dimensional. Yes, he’s been very good in the offensive end, averaging nearly a point per game. He’s winning about 52 percent of his draws to this point, which ties the best clip in his career, a mark which he’s only achieved once. He’s been strong in the physical game as well, with 25 hits on the stat sheet to date.
Hanzal’s early success has led to a great deal of ice time for the veteran forward. He’s averaging over 19:30 per game, tops among Coyote forwards. He’s playing big minutes on the power play, as well as contributing on the penalty kill. He’s an asset in all phases for Phoenix.
It’s obviously extremely early in the season, and we could very well see Hanzal fizzle out or end up with a nagging injury of some sort. But there’s no denying he’s off to a terrific start, and whatever success the Coyotes may find this season, he’ll be right in the middle of it.